Today’s news for the Obama campaign is particularly poor, as the first round of early voter results are skewing toward Mitt Romney. The presidential polls in swing states have favored President Obama, but polls do not decide an election.
The following numbers and analysis are based on the most recent Gallup Daily tracking study. As of today, roughly 15% of registered voters have turned in their ballots, whether through the mail or in early voting stations. This turnout marks a 5% rise from last week, but is well short of the 33% of registered voters who plan to cast their vote prior to Election Day.
The good news for the Obama campaign is the largest percentages of early voters are located in the West, in states like Washington and Oregon. Many western states make mail and early voting easier, along with encouraging their residents to use the program.
The largest demographic using early voting systems is seniors, with only 7% of voters aged 18 to 29 voting prior to November 6. The early voting percentages between Democrats and Republicans is nearly identical, 34% Republican and 33% Democrat.
The bad news for the Obama campaign is, among voters who say they have already voted, 52% of those votes have gone to Mitt Romney, compared to 45% for Obama. The race is tied in polls among those planning to vote early, but have yet to do so.
Many commentators are looking at Hurricane Sandy in the East as a potential threat to voter turnout. Each campaign is encouraging their supporters to turn their ballots in early to mitigate any troubles voters may have on Election Day.
Regardless of presidential polls or early voting responses, Gallup is not expecting early returns to have a major impact on the national popular vote, largely due to the older, western voters who have already voted.
The early return numbers should give the Obama campaign a wake up call in the last week before Election Day, as they trail the challenger while the president manages disaster response on the East coast.